Day 6 |
May 20, 2011

Iona, Staffa and Mull, Scotland

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 56°62´N, 06°07´W (Island Mull)
Weather: windy, overcast with sunshine and rain
Air Temperature: 12 C

Going through the Inner Hebrides, weather is always a challenge and so it was today. At the very early morning we tried to land in the southern part of Iona, but due very strong winds there was no chance at all to bring the Zodiacs into the water. So Captain Peter Stahlberg sailed the vessel up to the northern part of the island to find some shelter. The conditions were better than in the south and so disembarkation started. From the north it was a significantly longer way in the Zodiac to get to the landing site and the sea was a little bit choppy so guests were advised that they could get wet during this disembarkation. I was Zodiac driver and this morning and I have to admit that it was really a challenge for the drivers to bring the guests more or less dry to the shore side. Actually, the weather was sunny at this time of the day and one could see from far away the beautiful village with its abbey.

My colleagues Imogen and Victoria positioned themselves at the abbey and at the nunnery respectively to give an interpretation of this interesting site to our guests. From the landing site to the abbey a small street took the guests through the lovely village and after a 20-minute walk they stood in front of this magnificent building from the 12th century. Imogen in her interpretation made this past time come alive again and in listening to her, you could actually feel the prayers from nearly 800 hundred years ago simply by standing in the hall of the abbey. Going on to the nunnery where really only ruins are left, Victoria gave a vivid interpretation of a nun’s life in these past days.

At the end of the excursion, some rain disturbed a little bit the excellent day on the Scottish Island. Back on board a short lunch gave a little break to our guests before we went on to our next stop this day: Staffa Island. Unfortunately we could not do a Zodiac tour into the Fingals Cave due to the high swell caused by the strong wind. So Captain Peter Stahlberg brought the Silver Explorer as near as possible and guests were able to take pictures of the impressive columnar basalt formation of this island.

Shortly afterwards the decision was made by Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink and the Captain to sail on to Tobermory on Mull Island. Around quarter past three the vessel reached the harbor of Tobermory, where calm water characterized the beautiful bay of this little village. Disembarkation started immediately after anchor was dropped and guests could enjoy their afternoon in the village. Nice little houses painted in different colors were along the waterfront. Pubs, shops and a beautiful castle overlooking the village gave our guests enough entertainment for the whole afternoon, and when I spoke to them at the pier, they expressed how they had really enjoyed this wonderful afternoon on the Inner Hebrides just outside the Scottish Mainland.

Back on the ship again, recaps by my colleagues Imogen and Victoria about the history of these islands and the different architectural and religious aspects about the abbey finished this expedition day. This was followed by a short briefing by Conrad about the activities for tomorrow in Portree.

In the evening a delicious dinner was served in The Restaurant as Silver Explorer sailed along the different islands west of Scotland.